Royal despair: How Sarah Ferguson made Princess Diana realise royal life wasn’t for her

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PRINCESS DIANA was unhappy for much of the time she spent as a member of the Royal Family, but it was Sarah Ferguson who helped her realise that perhaps this was not a normal state of affairs.

The Princess of Wales admitted in an interview with BBC Panorama in 1995 that she had been very lonely in her marriage to Charles and struggled with mental health issues including depression and bulimia. She explained how she struggled with the strain of performing her duty, while inside she was in turmoil. On the other hand, Sarah Ferguson ‒ affectionately named Fergie ‒ was far happier in her marriage to Prince Andrew.

For one thing, their marriage was clearly a union based on love, whereas Diana and Charles had difficulties from the very beginning, due to their age gap and rushed courtship.

Diana struggled with the fact that Fergie was more popular than her within the Royal Family, particularly the Queen.

According to a 2006 Daily Mail article, the Queen “loved Fergie” because she “took part in everything ‒ maybe wearing bright pink pants, but loving it”.

Fergie also enjoyed all the outdoor pursuits that the royals liked: she was an expert rider and loved horses, so could connect with the Queen, she learned to carriage drive, so could connect with Prince Philip, and she was also an expert skier.

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Princess Diana couldn’t understand how Fergie was enjoying herself (Image: GETTY)

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Prince Andrew, Sarah Ferguson and Princess Diano on the Palace balcony (Image: GETTY)

Diana admitted she got “jealous” of Fergie, because it all seemed to come so easily to her.

The princess reportedly said: “[Fergie] kept saying to me: ‘You mustn’t worry, everything is going to be fine.’

“I couldn’t understand it, she was actually enjoying herself, whereas I was fighting to survive.

“I couldn’t understand how she could find it so easy.

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Fergie and Diana talking over Charles during a ski trip (Image: GETTY)

“I thought she would be like me and put her head down and be shy.

“No, a different kettle of fish altogether and she wooed everybody in this family and did it so well. She left me looking like dirt.”

In this way, this huge difference between the two royal brides made Diana realise that it was not a given that someone marrying into the Royal Family would not enjoy their new life.

In other words, Fergie’s enjoyment and initial success highlighted how Diana was not really cut out for royal life.

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Charles and Diana endured an unhappy marriage for a number of years (Image: GETTY)

Other people noticed it too; on a skiing holiday when Diana had been feeling unwell, but Fergie impressed everyone with her taming of the slopes, Charles asked Diana a rather cruel question.

He said: “Why can’t you be more like Fergie?”

At first, this insecurity led Diana to try to emulate Fergie, by pulling stunts like wearing leather trousers to a concert, but she found they tended to blow up in her face.

She told her biographer, Andrew Morton: “I made so many balls-ups trying to be like Fergie.

“I went to a pop concert in leather trousers, which I thought was frightfully ‘with it’, frightfully pleased to act my own age, completely putting out of my mind that I was the future Queen, and future Queens don’t weather leather like that in public.”

However, Fergie’s personality ended up causing her downfall too, as she eventually started losing favour with the Royal Family due to her boisterous antics.

She, too, was not cut out for royal life in that she could not be controlled.

She was reportedly caught drinking in the pub behind the royal mews and holding raucous parties with the footman where she and her father would pass around risqué presents.

She was also starting to struggle in her marriage, with Andrew being away a lot.

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After a while, the cracks started to appear in Fergie and Andrew’s marriage (Image: GETTY)

The Duchess of York also found Andrew’s preferred leisure pursuits like watching videos and playing golf rather boring, and was embarrassed by his behaviour when they entertained guests.

She also felt like Andrew did not stick up for her when she was being criticised by the Queen’s courtiers.

In the end, both Diana and Fergie’s marriages ended ‒ they separated from their princes in 1992 and divorced in 1996.

Diana tragically died in August 1997, but Fergie has since existed in a grey area, where she is not quite inside the Royal Family, but not quite outside either.

If you are struggling with mental health issues, please do not hesitate to call Samaritans on 116 123.

Source: EXPRESS CO UK